AUGUSTA — The court security officer who committed a major breach of ethical protocol when he sent a cellphone photo of a defense attorney’s notes to a prosecutor has quit.

Joel Eldridge of Augusta had been on paid leave pending an internal investigation by the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office.

On Monday, Kennebec County Administrator Robert Devlin said Eldridge “resigned upon the conclusion of the investigation.”

The resignation came in mid-April.

Eldridge responded to several questions sent Monday with a “no comment.”

Eldridge, who had worked for the county for 18 years starting as a corrections officer in 1999, was a sergeant in the court security division of the sheriff’s office. He took a cellphone photo Feb. 28 of defense attorney Sherry Tash’s notes in a courtroom at the Capital Judicial Center while Tash and the prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Francis Griffin, were discussing a case in chambers with Judge Eric Walker. He then emailed the photo to the prosecutor’s phone.

“It’s outrageous,” Tash said previously outside the courthouse. “He (Eldridge) is one of the people who’s supposed to protect the sanctity of the courtroom, and he goes and does this.”

The case involved Carl Langston, 28, of Brunswick, who was accused of robbery, aggravated assault and criminal mischief, as well as violating probation.

Griffin immediately contacted his supervisor, District Attorney Maeghan Maloney, and she called Sheriff Ken Mason.

Griffin also reached out to Tash to tell her what had happened.

It’s unclear why Eldridge took the photo and sent it to Griffin, an action that officials said wasn’t a crime but rather a serious ethical breach and violation of courtroom protocol. Maloney at the time said the information received “was not actually anything helpful to the prosecution.”

The county has a contract with the state court system to provide court security. Four full-time officers, including Eldridge, and a dozen part-time officers worked at courts in Augusta and Waterville.

Walker, who was handling the Langston matter, told Griffin in court that he appreciated the way the district attorney’s office handled the situation.

“It appears as though court security has taken a real serious hit as far as credibility is concerned,” Walker said from the bench.

He said he didn’t understand why it happened.

“I have no words to describe how I feel about this right now,” Walker added.

Devlin said he could not provide the investigative report to the newspaper. The Kennebec Journal has filed a Freedom of Access Act request to get the documents. Previously, the state denied the newspaper’s request for a copy of the video surveillance from the courtroom.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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